Welcome to another edition of my weekend column – as always, send your takes, tips and trial balloons to email@example.com.
1. There are plenty of reasons Paul Ryanpresents a big headache for Brendan Doherty. Here’s another one: he makes the campaign much more wonky, and even Doherty’s most fervent supporters acknowledge his grasp of federal policy isn’t rock solid (let alone a match for David Cicilline‘s). Doherty will now be asked specifics about where he agrees and disagrees with Ryan – and not just about Medicare – forcing him to find a way to stay in the center without disavowing Ryan’s budget and infuriating local conservatives. It will be hard to thread that needle without a very firm grasp of the issues. For example, Doherty told Slate he thinks Ryan “has some great ideas, and I support them” – the obvious follow-up being, which ones? Cicilline’s only hope is to make this a national race, not a referendum on his own career and character, and Mitt Romney may help him accomplish that.
2. Speaking of Doherty, his campaign manager tells me the former state police superintendent won’t be joining local party poobahs at the upcoming Republican National Convention in Tampa: “He believes that his time is best spent meeting voters here in the 1st District.” Quite a contrast: judging by this list, every major Rhode Island Democrat will be at their party’s gathering in Charlotte – joined, of course, by Lincoln Chafee.
3. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a Republican governor joins with Democratic legislative leaders to provide a speculative private business with state support, promising the bipartisan deal will mean job growth and new tax revenue down the road. It sounds like Don Carcieri and 38 Studios, but it’s actually New Jersey’sChris Christie and two development projects. Two of the lessons from these boondoggles: both Republicans and Democrats are tempted by crony capitalism, and bipartisanship should be greeted with skepticism rather than celebration.
5. Are some national Republicans still on the fence about Doherty? House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s Young Guns Action Fund PAC didn’t include him in its $5.5 million fall advertising buy announced last week, even though Doherty is an official “Young Gun.” Today comes word the group is running robo-calls in 42 districts, but not Rhode Island’s 1st. While Cantor’s PAC isn’t controlled by the National Republican Congressional Committee – which has high hopes for Doherty – it’s still interesting that they’re drawing a distinction between him and Massachusetts’ Richard Tisei, another surprisingly competitive New England Republican.
7. The wealth gap between Rhode Island and its two neighbors is an under-discussed aspect of the state’s economic problems. In 2010, per-capita income in Rhode Island was $27,700, which was 20% less than Massachusetts ($33,200) and 27% less than Connecticut ($35,100). Here’s another way to look at: East Greenwich is the wealthiest Rhode Island municipality, with per-capita income of $49,479 – and it wouldn’t even crack the top 10 in Massachusetts. There’s just a lot less money washing around in Rhode Island than in its next-door neighbors, and a lot of the state’s problems would be solved if it could catch up.
9. Could Gina Raimondo run for governor in 2014 as an independent? With Angel Taveras increasingly likely to seek the Democratic nomination, that’s one option a political observer suggested to me this week. Lincoln Chafee showed it can work in a crowded field. Color me skeptical, though, considering her support for David Cicilline and the way it could complicate her aspirations down the road. Moreover, just a few months ago Raimondo rejected the idea that she’s a “DINO” and explained what makes her a Democrat.
11. Tim White made quite a splash this week with his story about Kenneth Naylor, the Warwick DPW worker who’s getting his job back even though he’s still facing a criminal charge for allegedly stealing equipment from the city. Here’s the kicker: an arbitrator ordered the city to cut him a check for roughly nine months’ worth of back pay. How much will that cost taxpayers? Your guess is as good as mine – as of Friday the city still hadn’t calculated how much it owes him, even though the decision came down more than a week ago. Stay tuned.
12. This week on Newsmakers – a Campaign 2012 debate for Senate District 29 between Sen. Michael McCaffrey and Laura Pisaturo. Watch Sunday at 10 a.m. on Fox Providence. This week on Executive Suite – Yardney Technical Products’ Richard Scibelli on his Mars rover work and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce’s Laurie White. Watch Sunday at 6 p.m. on myRITV (or 6 a.m. on Fox). See you back here next Saturday morning.